For Your Eyes Only?
Having sensitive information fall into Iranian hands is definitely to be avoided. The problem is blurring the distinction between enforcing an existing embargo on commonly available commercial products and negating a new potential threat posed by the AMD transaction.
Senator Jon Kyl (R-Az) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Treasury, who is the CFIUS chairman, stating that “some of these re-exported goods [from the US to UAE to Iran] involve sensitive technology, the sale of which is barred by U.S. law." (Inside the Ring) It is fine and good to point out that there is a violation of embargo law taking place, but arguing that Iran having publicly available chips is a national security concern that CFIUS can address, raises questions.
CFIUS isn’t supposed to mitigate a transaction if the concern is already covered in other legislation - they aren’t an enforcement branch meant to punitively block investments from countries that run afoul of other laws. Senator Kyl sent his letter to the right Department, but may have wanted to CC the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) since they look after the Iranian Transaction Regulations, or the Commerce Department’s Bureau of Industry and Security (BIS) who oversee the Export Administration Regulations.
If AMD is involved in low-profile work with the Pentagon, then there is a legitimate concern for CFIUS. A previous article mentioned that it is a challenge, but by no means impossible, for a large company to make sure only some, carefully vetted, people are privy to, or even aware of, sensitive military projects. CFIUS has to make sure these sorts of controls are in place, and if not, impose them.